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Letter to the editor: In defence of preferred lists

As creator of Hargreaves Lansdown’s Wealth150 list and one of the people who worked hard to shape the Wealth150 Plus list, I take issue with Nic Cicutti’s article.

I resent suggestions, direct or implied, that the list is chosen on a commercial basis. I believe the quality of this list stands out, although inevitably I do not expect everyone to agree with every selection (especially those who have a commercial interest in knocking HL).

The FCA regularly interviews platforms about the compilation and constituents of ‘preferred’ lists such as ours and we are unsurprised the regulator is doing so once more. HL has not been “forced” to explain anything recently – we’ve been explaining for the last 10 years to those interested in listening.

What has surprised me this time around is just how few commentators have bothered to take the time to ask myself or Lee Gardhouse (HL’s investment director) anything about the funds and the managers selected. Fewer have taken up the open invitation to visit HL’s offices and be run through the databases and systems behind the analysis – the invitation is still open by the way.

Prior to the RDR, HL was attacked for the list not being transparent on charges. Now it is transparent, yet we are still criticised based on cynicism and “suspicion”. HL was the only platform to openly ask groups for their best prices for its clients, although other investors have also benefited from our negotiations.

Independently, we looked for what we believe to be the best funds looking forward, aiming for the ‘best funds at the best prices’. It would have been very easy to have filled the list with lesser funds at much lower prices but we did not, as they did not meet our performance criteria.

Equally, it would have been easy to fill the list with the latest top performers, reducing the risk of criticism for daring to back out-of-favour managers. However, we are playing the long game and believe the quality of our overall offering will continue to show through.

The performance record of the Wealth 150 since 2003 speaks for itself. We believe our initiatives to bring prices down compliments our record of picking winning funds and should be applauded, not bemoaned and we believe investors who back our selections will do well in the future as they have in the past.

Mark Dampier is head of research at Hargreaves Lansdown 

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